Gasparilla season continues this Saturday, January 18 as the 2020 Ashley HomeStore Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay invades Tampa’s famed Bayshore Blvd. for a day of family-friendly alcohol-free pirate festival fun. Pre-parade activities begin at 11 a.m. with the Children’s Gasparilla Parade to follow from 3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
“A Tampa tradition since 1947, Children’s Gasparilla celebrates the return of Gasparilla season with a pirate-perfect day the whole family can enjoy in an alcohol-free environment,” said Maiken Stefany, Director of Operations for Children’s Gasparilla. “This year, America’s largest children’s parade gets even bigger with WWE® Superstar The Big Show®, who will serve as Grand Marshal, as well as this year’s honorary Community Hero Gary Markel, founder and board chair of the nonprofit Operation Healing Forces.”
The day begins with the Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Rodeo from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Located along Bayshore Blvd. between Rome Ave. and Dakota Ave., the Bicycle Rodeo is free to anyone interested in learning how to bicycle safely with traffic. Volunteers will fit children in attendance with new, free bicycle helmets that they can keep (while supplies last). Kids can then use one of the Rodeo’s bicycles to ride through a fun course that teaches skills that could one day save their life.
The Gasparilla Air Invasion will take flight from 12 p.m. – 3:15 p.m., featuring a precision parachute jump by the United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team (The Para-Commandos), vintage aircraft including the TP-40 Warhawk “American Dream” and aerobatic routines expertly performed by the Lima Lima Flight Team. This is the largest Gasparilla Air Invasion in event history and is the first time that the Children’s Gasparilla has been designated as an Official Air Show by the FAA and Aerial Office of Special Events for the United States Air Force.
Tampa Bay’s youngest pirates can join in the merrymaking with the Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. (new earlier start time for 2020). Beginning at Howard Ave. and ending at Rome Ave., the Preschooler’s Stroll gives children five and younger the chance to strut their stuff along Bayshore Blvd. Check out specially decorated wagons, bicycles and strollers and the best little pirate attire in this new Gasparilla tradition.
From 3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m., the Children’s Gasparilla Parade steps off from Bay to Bay Blvd. & Bayshore Blvd. and proceeds north along Bayshore for nearly 1.5 miles before finally ending at Edison Ave. 136 expertly-designed parade floats, krewes, marching bands, dance units, school organizations, community groups, and neighborhood associations will march along beautiful Bayshore Blvd. – the same route as the Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates.
Immediately following the parade, the reimagined Children’s Gasparilla “Piratechnic” Finale will begin at a new earlier 6 p.m. start time for 2020. SOCOM Para-Commandos will coast to Bayshore below in a night jump, the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship will arrive ablaze with cannons and lights, and GhostWriter Airshows will perform their signature fireworks flight.
Then, on command, the Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla will order a sequence of firework shells featuring a unique and spectacular display aimed to impress the new Mayor of Tampa (who loves pirates and their Piratechnics). Following the sample sequence, the Captain shall order a full display of the might and majesty of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, paving the way for a festive and colorful invasion by merry pirates on the following Saturday, January 25.
Admission for the Ashley HomeStore Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay is free with reserved seating ticket packages available starting at $52. To purchase, visit GasparillaTreasures.com. The Children’s Gasparilla Parade is broadcast live on WTVT, FOX 13 and streamed on Fox13News.com. You can also follow the Gasparilla celebrations on social media @GasparillaTampa.